back when i used to work in a newspaper
The purpose of the trip was to cover a series of cultural activities in Bohol. I was flying in a day later with the organizers. And since it was sponsored by an arts and culture organization, I was to spend the trip with professors and scholars. We were to take a plane from Manila to Cebu and then a speed boat from Cebu to Bohol. I think it was in Cebu when the lectures started. I never thought that travelling with scholars could be exhausting. At first it was amusing to have someone pointing out to you the cultural significance of every landmark in every town but four hours into the trip, I realized it was no longer just a lecture. They were already showing off. When I arrived in Bohol I was again surprised to find out that I’ll be sharing the room with two guys. Normally writers get a solo room but on this trip I was to share not just the room but two of us also had to share a bed. I immediately panicked when the writer from PDI quickly plopped his bag on the single bed. The temerity! I can’t possibly sleep next to the guide because... because... well, because he was so cute! In fact, both of my roommates were cute! My fear then was that I’d wake up with a hard-on. During the entire trip I was restraining myself from fantasizing a threesome with my delicious roommates but I realized its futility when, after a swim, I found myself staring at the guide’s wet underwear hanging on the balcony. Since that afternoon, I avoided talking to him (which was impossible since we share a bed nga) because every time I do I couldn’t restrain myself from blushing! Oh, and what about the cultural sites and activities? They were also very lovely.
A few years ago, when I was involved with a certain newspaper, one of my first assignments was to cover a hotel somewhere in Clark. I was already aloof then (when was I ever not) so I decided to skip the free transpo and go there by myself. I thought I would treat it as an adventure Lonely Planet style --- Writer going solo, travelling to an uncharted land where danger lurks everywhere. Who am I kidding? It’s in freaking Angeles. I could be there in an hour or two. I never like familiarity tours. Whenever I am in one I’m in survival mode as in Survivor the reality TV show. I immediately start to think of who I am voting out next. Anyway I arrived at the hotel and was surprised to find out that I’ll be occupying an entire suite all by myself. As in I could swim in the huge bed and drown with all the voluminous sheets and blankets. I took one look at the room and was immediately reminded of Dione Warwick and suicide. A home it definitely was not. But, there’s porn on cable. Well, I had to request it from the front desk so I decided to skip it. The tour had us going to a fairly new casino and a rough ride to Mt. Pinatubo. I don’t remember much of the tour but I do remember the site that locals call the Gates of Heaven (or was it Hell?). Apparently there was a rumor that when lahar was raging down from the mountain rich locals decided to hire a helicopter and drop a bomb (?) on one of the hills to create a wall of rocks. What remained were rock formations that strangely look like huge claws reaching out to the sky. There were caves, too, where, according to the tour guide, Japanese soldiers used to hide during the Second World War. Now, he said, the caves are occupied by snakes.
But what I loved best about the tour was the hot tub. Every night, I would spend hours in the hot tub doing my impressions of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Unfortunately though, there was no Richard Gere to share it with. Later, I would wonder why my skin stings. At first I thought I had sunburn but I later realized that it was because of my nightly bathtub adventures. Apparently, I was unwittingly boiling myself alive.